Susan Gutfreund throws a beautiful banquet in her opulent New York residence

Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo

From the porch

Updated on December 21, 2020: Auction paddle ready! Christie’s will host a series of net sales months to display the furniture and art objects that once decorated Mr. and Mrs. John H. Gutfreund’s New York apartment on Fifth Avenue. Design lovers are invited to discover the cherished dinner, famous Chanel jewels and fine English furniture in personal and online auctions from January 14th to 29th.

In 2014, Susan Gutfreund welcomed VERANDA to her New York apartment for an intimate dinner party with vintage English plates, engraved stemmed glasses from the early 20th century and French champagne flutes, all of which will be auctioned by Christie’s. Read on to learn Susan’s lessons on gracious entertainment.

A young wife in gilded New York in the 1980s, interior designer Susan Gutfreund took inspiration from the party art of some of the most famous and iconic hosts of the day. From de la Rentas to Rothschilds, their mentors are legendary and, sadly, of a rare – if not dying – breed of those who entertain formally and impeccably at home. Decades later, Gutfreund bravely holds on to its legacy of starched bed linen, exquisite china, sparkling crystal and perfect flowers. “I love being a housewife,” she says emphatically, “and sharing my passion for entertainment with friends is a great pleasure.”

Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo

At their famously fabulous Henri Samuel-designed Duplex Fifth Avenue – the kind of luxury that makes New York New York – the galas and contentious excesses of yesteryear have retreated to the perhaps more posh realm of lunches and small dinners. The ideal number of guests is between four and eight, she says, “more than the graces [three] and less than the muses [nine]. Liliane de Rothschild told me that, and it really is the ideal number. Anyone can beat a table and talk to everyone else. “

Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo

Gutfreund draws up their guest lists with care, their goal is more to mix than to fit. It could be an artist next to a CEO, next to an actor, next to a surgeon. Then she continues, “Once I have my people, I work very hard to make it look effortless. When people arrive, I can chat as a guest. I can relax because I’ve done my homework. If a hostess isn’t sure, her guests won’t feel comfortable. “This homework involves part or all of the kitchen, the flowers, the lighting, the seating plan and choosing from the enviable collections of linen, china and silver that she has organized and photographed in appealing combinations that are therefore easy to do when the time is right.

The story goes on

Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo

An evening with Gutfreund can begin with drinks in the salon or in the more intimate smoking room before moving on to dinner. (No cell phones at the table, please.) For smaller groups, Gutfreund can avoid the formal dining room and set up a table in the “winter garden”, so named because of its 18th century flower-painted panels and carved grids. Cozy by the fire, framed by an extraordinary Chinese iron stone coat from the early 19th century, guests are surrounded by treasures, including chairs from a Danish palace, a Ming Jardiniere, silk chinoiserie cushions from the 18th century and a sofa from the estate of Vincent belong to Fourcade.

Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo

Despite the size of the room, Gutfreund keeps your food simple. She knows her “audience”, so to speak, and likes to serve things that she doesn’t have in restaurants, like her grilled meatloaf, her dishwasher poached salmon (seriously) or her precious pigs wrapped in a blanket. Hers are made from pretzel batter she buys at the Amish markets in Pennsylvania, where she and her husband John have a house on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia. Her credo is as simple as her food is satisfactory: “What people – especially men – really want is a comfortable chair, a cold drink and a warm meal. A pretty woman doesn’t hurt either, ”she adds. Gutfreund is sure to fit in every way.

Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo

This feature was originally published in the March / April 2014 issue of VERANDA. Interiors by Susan Gurfreund; Photography by Melanie Acevedo; produced by Carolyn Englefield; written by Frances Schultz.

You might like it too

Comments are closed.